Spot or Not: 99W Gap
by Chris Barcellos
This spot is located in Oak Grove Oregon, which is just south or Portland. I first heard about this spot from Christian DesGeorges. He sent me a shot of if, saying that it would be sick to winch. I agreed. As luck would have it I was in Oregon nine months or so after I first heard about the gap, to ride with Zak Stone.
We hit this spot in early January and let me tell you that the rivers in Oregon are not warm at this time of the year. The air was around 35 and the water was probably around the same. Imagine shot-gunning a slurpie and having the worst brain freeze ever. That’s how your head feels instantly after going underwater. My 4/3mm wetsuit couldn’t quite do the job, but I made do anyway.
The spot is under an overpass. To the left of the gap it is a fish ladder. The landing is about 2-5 ft deep and the landing is fairly narrow. The sides of the landing and just below the waters surface you’ll find jagged cement boulders and twisted up rebar. Belzer was wearing a scuba wetsuit, and for most of the session he held a board in front of some exposed rebar. The runway on top was shallow, so we put some sandbags along the edge to help raise the water level a couple of inches. There were these 1-inch high bolts sticking out along the runway as well. To the right of the runway was a drain. Tons of water was sucking down into it– definitely not a place you would want to get sucked into. Reed’s board was sucked into the drain actually and it took Belzer about a hour to get it out…so sketchy.
I hit the gap first–I found each of the bolts one by one with either my wakeskate, or my back. I have the gashes in my wakeskate and a couple holes in my wetsuit to prove it. A mini-sledge hammer helped me get my revenge on those bolts however. The start was in shallow water, which caused you to slide across the cement until you could get up to speed. There wasn’t much time to setup for tricks so only ollies went down this day. Reed Watson and another Oregon local wakeskater also hit up the spot. Zak would have been out there risking his body over the rebar too but he was the only one who was experienced enough to drive the Hive for this gap.
The spot is somewhat hidden, so that did help us avoid getting kicked out. A few cops were in the parking lot next to us pulling people over, but they didn’t seem to notice what we were doing–which is always a good thing.
I asked Reed if he had ever gone back to the spot after we hit it and his response was, “I’m never going back to that gap again.” Apparently when the river level drops a few feet a surprise comes out. There was much more rebar and cement sticking up in the landing that we knew about. Luckily no one was hurt during our session.
I wanted to say thanks to Christian for finding the gap and sharing it with us. Also another big thanks to Mr. Zak Stone of OTT for letting me crash at his pad and for bringing his Hive out to pull us all for a few hours in the cold. Maybe someday this gap will get hit again–I’m down, is anyone else?